|Publication number||US3095677 A|
|Publication date||Jul 2, 1963|
|Filing date||Jul 20, 1960|
|Priority date||Jul 20, 1960|
|Publication number||US 3095677 A, US 3095677A, US-A-3095677, US3095677 A, US3095677A|
|Inventors||Dreyfus Robert L, Kirkpatrick Wylie C|
|Original Assignee||Grace W R & Co|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (8), Referenced by (16), Classifications (16)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
Jul 2, 1963 R. L. DREYFUS ETAL METHOD OF PACKAGING ARTICLES Filed July 20, 1960 Unite States This invention relates to packaging and more particularly to a novel method of packaging employing shrinkable material and to the package resulting therefrom.
Packaging of small inexpensive items has long posed a problem for the packaging industry. It is essential that packaging costs for such items be kept to an absolute minimum else the packaging cost may equal or exceed the value of the item being packaged. Because of the difficulty in lowering such packaging costs it is not uncommon to handle small items in unpaclcaged bulk quantitles or as an alternative to package a number of the items in a single package. Both attempts to circumvent the heretofore high cost of packaging have not been satisfactory for obvious reasons. What is needed therefore is a low cost package which can be produced with a minimum of labor, machinery and materials.
Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide a novel method of packaging employing shrinkable materials.
Another object is to provide a novel method of packaging which is suitable for small, low cost items.
It is a further object to provide a novel method for packaging small objects continuously in continuous strip of material.
A further object is to provide a novel method of packaging small, irregular-shaped objects and also fragile and heat-sensitive objects.
Another object is to provide a package whichis W in cost and suitable for small items.
Other and further objects, advantages and features of the present invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art from the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which:
FIGURE 1 is a top plan View of a strip of shrinkable film having objects spaced at regular intervals upon said strip.
FIGURE 2 is a top plan view of the strip showing the film its shrunken state and the objects enclosed within the shrunken film strip.
FIGURE 3 is a partial cross-sectional view of FIGURE 2 along the line 3-3.
FIGURE 4 is an elevational view partially in section showing the formation of a pocket in a strip of film and ate the packaging of an irregularly shaped object in said pocket.
The plastic age has produced many new materials posessing properties that make them particularly useful in the field of packaging. One has only to look about to see the great use of transparent materials in packaging made possible by the development of inexpensive transparent materials. With the development of thermoplastics, it has become possible to mold containers in various shape and styles. Shrinkable plastic materials have also made it possible to obtain skin-tight package coverings. This invention makes use of shrinkable materials in a novel manner to produce a novel package which solves a problem of longstanding in the industry.
The preferred shrinkable material and that used in the examples is a heat shrinkable, irradiated, biaxially oriented polyethylene film, specifically Alathon 14, average molecular weight 20,000, density 0.914 and having a melt index of 1.8 which has been irradiated to an extent of about 12 megarad and then biaxially stretched 350% in both a lateral and longitudinal direction. The irradiated,
biaxially oriented polyethylene film has a shrink energy of about 150 psi. in both directions at 96 C.
There may also be employed in this invention shrinkable irradiated polyethylene films which have been irradiated to an extent of 2 to 100 megarad, preferably 6 to 20 megarad. The irradiation may be accomplished in conventional fashion, e.g. by the use of electron beam generators such as the 2,000,000 volt General Electric resonant transformer unit, or high energy particle generators of 50,000 to 50,000,000 volts or a Van de Graaf electron generator such as that which operates at 2,000,- 000 volts with a power output of 500 watts, manufactured by the High Voltage Engineering Corp, Burlington, Mass. in addition to the use of electrons for irradiating the polyethylene there can be employed other sources of radiation which are capable of producing beta or gamma rays. There can be employed any of the inadiation procedures disclosed in Baird et al. application Ser-ial No. 713,848 filed February 7, 1958 or Rainer Patent 2,877,500. The disclosures of the Baird et al. application and the Rainer patent are hereby incorporated by reference.
Orientation of the film may be accomplished by monoaxial or biaxial stretching. It i possible to stretch irradi ated polyethylene from 100% to 700% longitudinally and from 100% to 900% laterally. Biaxial orientation resuits from the simultaneous radial and longitudinal stretching of the polyethylene. One method of biaxially orienting polyethylene is to force air into a heated tube of polyethylene forming a bubble which is trapped between two sets of pinch rolls. The tube of polyethylene undergoes a radial and longitudinal stretch to accommodate the air bubble. This process i described in more detail in the Baird et al. application Serial No. 713,848.
The biaxially oriented polyethylene prepared by the above procedures lias a high shrinkenergy, e.g. 100 to 500 p.s.i at 96 C. Shrink energy is the force of contraction at a given temperature when the material is re strained and more specifically it is themeasurable tension in a fully monodirectionallyrestrained strip of film when heated to thespecified temperature.
As a starting polyethylene there may be employed high;
employed in my invention irradiated, solid copolymers of" ethylene and propylene (e.g., a 50-50 copolymer) or irradiated. solid copolymers of ethylene with a minor amount, eg 5% of isobutylene, amylene acetylene, butadiene, .butene l and butene 2, or irradiated blends of low density polyethylene with from 25 to by weight of a copolymer ofethylene and from 0.5 to 15% by weight of mother olefin which has 3 to 18 carbon atoms, or block copoly'mers of polyethylene with a minor amount, e.g., 5% of polyisobutylene, and irradiated graft polymers'of polyethylene or polypropylene with monomers such as acetylene, buiadiene, butylene, ethylene or polypropylene which materials are biaxially oriented. There can also be employed solid polypropylene and polyvinyl chloride which are biaxially oriented. It is possible to employ other film materials having a high] degree of.
, strip a plurality of small rounded objects approximately 1 inch in diameter and inch in height, e.g., buttons.
3 The objects are spaced along the center of the film strip approximately 4 inches apart and from 4 to 6 inches from either end of the film strip.
A hot air blower capable of generating a gas temperature of approximately 300 to 750 F. is placed above the strip of film and the hot air is directed against the top surface of the film bearing the objects. Starting at one end of the film strip the jet of hot air is moved along the film strip at a speed which will permit the exposed surface of the film to be almost completely shrunk.
In the present example the film will shrink approximately 75% of its original dimensions. As the film shrinks it will be observed that the film in the immediate vicinity of the objects curls over and around each object, thereby partially encapsulating the object within the strip of film. The shunken strip of film with the partially encapsulated objects is shown in FIGURE 2 wherein 14 refers to the area over the object 11 which is not covered by the film and 15 refers to the outline of the unshrunk film pocket surrounding the object. The shrunken film is now approximately '15 mils thick. FIGURE 3 shows in detail the manner in which the thickened shrunk film has partially closed over the object and also shows the unshnunk portion of the film 13 directly under the object which is substantially uniform in gauge or thickness and has retained its original thickness of 1 mil.
The above procedure permits the packaging of objects in a transparent strip of plastic material by merely placing the objects to be packaged upon a strip of shrinkable film and then applying heat. The application of heat is sufficient to cause the object to be encapsulated within the shrunken film. No wrapping step is required to bring the film over the object.
This invention also contemplates the continuous encapsulation of objects within a strip of material. For example, a polyethylene film strip could be continually dispensed from a roll toward a pull roll system or onto a moving conveyor, whereupon the products to be packaged would be automatically placed upon the strip of film and moved towards a heat source which would shrink the film and encapsulate the product. The packaged product could then be taken up on rolls or cut in lengths or handled in any manner desired. In employing such a continuous or automatic procedure it is possible and might be desirable to indent the objects into the film prior to its being shrunk in order to insure more uniform and precise encapsulation. This could be accomplished by placing the object on the film with some degree of force while the film is above a resilient base. Another method of insuring a more uniform encapsulation would be to employ a conveyor belt having a series of pockets spaced along the belt. As the filmmoves along the belt the object being packaged is placed upon the film so as to fit into the pocket. The object is held securely in place through the shrinking operation. It might also be necessary in certain cases to provide a more uniform and attractive end product to employ guides to prevent the film edges from curling while exposed to heat.
While a hot air gun is an obvious source of heat for shrinking the film, it is obvious that other heat sources could be employed and that any temperature that is high enough to shrink the film without melting or decomposing the film will be satisfactory.
There are many possible alternative methods of merchandising objects packaged according to this invention. The packaged product could be wound on rolls and the desired quantity could be cut off in a continuous strip. It is also possible to cut the packaged product into strips of different sizes or even into individual units. The thickened film is suificiently sturdy so that the strips may be displayed by hanging from some suitable support. The resulting package is sturdy, transparent and attractive.
The invention is particularly suitable for packaging objects which have relatively fiat regular shapes and are not sensitive to the temperatures employed in shrinking the film. Thus there may be packaged such objects as buttons, coins, washers, medals, chips, tablets, pills, discs, etc. It is necessary that the object be suliiciently rigid so as not to deform under the strain of the shrinking film. This invention is not limited, however, to objects having rounded shapes but also applies to objects having other geometric configurations, e.g. rectangles, triangles, etc. With the shrinkable materials disclosed in this application, it is possible to encapsulate objects up to /2 inch in thickness.
Taller and thicker objects than the aforementioned can be suitably partially encapsulated or held to a film strip if such objects have a relatively thin extension, projection or flange at the base thereof over which the film may curl when shrinking, c.g., transformers or other small electrical parts which have thin lateral projections which serve to retain fastening devices.
By modifying the above-described encapsulation process it becomes possible to encapsulate delicate, heat-sensitive or irregular-shaped objects. Flat forms, e.g. metal washers, are placed upon a strip of irradiated, biaxially oriented polyethylene film which is shrunk by the application of heat in the manner heretofore described. The forms are easily removed from their pockets within the shrunken film because of the resiliency and elasticity of the film. The delicate, heat sensitive, irregular shaped or any other object of suitable size may then be placed within the pockets of unshrunken film which will then hold the object. If a tighter pocket is desired, heat may be applied to the unshnunk pocket causing it to shrink and tighten about the object contained therein.
FIGURE 4 discloses a strip of irradiated, biaxially oriented polyethylene film 20 which has been shrunk about flat round forms 21 and from which the forms have been removed leaving empty pockets 22 of unshrunk film. There have been placed in several of the empty unshrunk pockets objects 23, such as brass screws, which are retained therein because of the narrow opening of the pocket. If desired the unshrunk pocket may be shrunk about the enclosed brass screw by the application of heat.
The invention described in detail in the foregoing specification is susceptible to changes and modifications as may occur to persons skilled in the art without departing from the principle and spirit thereof. The terminology used in the specification is for purpose of description and not of limitation, the scope of the invention being defined in the claims.
1. A method of packaging a relatively thin object which comprises placing said object upon a substantially flat sheet of heat shrinkable material and subjecting the heat shrinkable material to heat except for that portion of said material which lies directly under said object whereby said material shrinks up the sides and at least partially over the top of the object and thereby partially encloses said object.
2. A method which comprises placing a relatively thin object upon a fiat sheet of heat shrinkable material, directing heat against the surface of said material upon which said object is positioned so as to cause the heat shrinkable material not covered by the object to shrink up the sides and at least partially over the top of said object and in so doing to partially encapsulate said object.
3. A method according to claim 2 wherein said heat shrinkable material is an irradiated, biaxially oriented polyethylene film.
4. A method according to claim 2 wherein said object is a relatively flat and annular-shaped object.
5. A method of partially encapsulating a relatively thin object within a strip of heat shrinkable material which comprises placing said object on said strip, directing heat against said strip causing said strip to shrink and curl at least partially over the top of said object forming a pocket with a small opening in which said object is enclosed.
6. A method of partially encapsulating thin objects within a strip of heat shrinkable material which comprises spacing said objects upon the surface of said strip, directing heat against the surface of said strip bearing said objects causing the film to shrink and curl at least partially over the top of said objects thereby partially enclosing said objects within a pocket of unshrunk material.
7. The method of claim 6 wherein said heat shrinkable material is an irradiated, 'biaxially oriented polyethylene.
8. A method of packaging which comprises placing a relatively thin object upon a sheet of heat shrinkable film, directing 'heat against said object and said film causing the film to shrink and in so doing curl over the top of said object to thereby partially enclose said object, removing said object from the thus-formed pocket of unshrunk film and inserting in said pocket the product to be packaged.
9. The method of claim 8 wherein the unshrunken pocket is subsequently shrunk about the product being packaged.
10. The method of claim 8 wherein said heat shrinkable film is an irradiated biaxially oriented polyethylene.
References Cited in the file of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,676,704 Marks Apr. 27, 1954 2,855,735 Groth Oct. 14, 1958 2,861,504 Hanford Nov. 25, 1958 2,876,899 Maynard Mar. 10, 1959 2,878,628 Curry Mar. 24, 1959 2,885,105 Heyl et a1. May 5, 1959 FOREIGN PATENTS 426,788 Great Britain Apr. 5, 1935 761,075 Great Britain Nov. 7, 1956
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|U.S. Classification||53/397, 53/453, 206/303, 206/338, 206/445, 53/442, 206/486, 206/497, 206/345|
|International Classification||B65B15/02, B65D73/00, B65B15/00|
|Cooperative Classification||B65B15/02, B65D73/0035|
|European Classification||B65B15/02, B65D73/00C|